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Calgary school Advent concert moved to online over health concerns – Calgary

The Calgary Catholic School District has moved the annual Advent choir performance from in-person to online this year.

The “Hear the Angels Sing” Calgary Catholic School District High School Advent and Christmas Choral Festival celebrates the sacred songs of Advent and Christmas. This year marks the 28th year of the festival.

The event was scheduled to take place at St. Michael’s church in southwest Calgary on December 6.

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A spokesperson for CCSD said the decision to record the festival and share it online — which has been done for the past two years — was made due to the high number of illnesses in the school district, combined with the fact that airborne viruses are spread through activities such as singing and the initial plan to have multiple cohorts from various schools mingle.

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“One of my favourite things about performing is the crowd interacting and getting feedback and not being able to have that, I was a little sad,” said Taylor Miles, a Grade 11 choir member at Bishop Carroll High School.

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The annual Advent Choral Festival would have seen hundreds of students in CCSD performing at St, Michael’s church last week.

“I was really excited to meet all the choir students from other schools as well, but now that we can’t. I’m excited to see what they do virtually,” Miles said.

The Grade 11 choir members know about the disappointment of cancelled live performances. They were in grade 8 when COVID-19 first disrupted their lives.

“It teaches you to definitely not to take anything for granted,” said grade 11 student Harold Kalinga.

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“I think it’s really important to know the gray area between what we want to happen and what needs to happen, because a lot of the time not everything is going to work out the way we want it to,” said Grade 11 choir member Jannelle Lecomte

Last week, CCSD announced that if a school has more than 10 per cent of its students away due to illness, gatherings like Christmas concerts would be postponed or moved to a virtual presentation.

As of Monday, 35 out of 117 of the district’s schools currently have student absence illness rates greater than 10%.

“We know the gathering limits will reduce the spread and maybe putting some classes online,” said Gosia Gasperowicz a developmental biologist and a researcher at the University of Calgary and co-founder of Zero Covid Canada.

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Students say the experience has taught them resilience and how  to get creative.

“It also shows how passionate people are about music, because we really care about this and we said we are going to make this work one way or another,”  Kalinga said.

This year’s virtual concert will be released next week.

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